The Pantser Plots: A #NaNoWriMo Experiment, Part 2…

pantser plots non atb
I’m usually a pantser, but as part of an experiment I’m planning an entire NaNoWriMo project from start to finish before the start of November. Normally I think of characters, a basic idea, and just start to write. This results in a messy first draft, which sometimes doesn’t get finished because I get to a certain point and get stuck.

Hence the experiment. I want to see if planning improves my first drafts.

I started planning on the 3rd of October. Why not the 1st or 2nd? I write weekly short stories on Sundays and have Monday’s off, but I did head to the library to snag a book for research:

I’ve decided to plan my idea based on Arthurian legend. This is the first of many historical texts I’ll be reading!

I also made a ‘preptober plan.’ It’s not as advanced as others I’ve seen people posting on the internet. Theirs have check boxes. Mine is a scribbled list:

This is pretty neat for me…

So how is my planning going so far? I tackled plot first.


The first thing I did was scour the internet for a template. I went back to basics here because it’s been a long time since school, and everything I knew of planning, (apart from beginning, middle and end) was forgotten long ago in favour of writing whatever scenes came to mind.

The template I found was a little small, so I added sections for more plot points and back story. 

plotting template
Basic skeleton plan I used.

I want to weave Arthurian legend into my work, as a reincarnation story doesn’t mean much without backstory. I could say the original stories are the backstory, but each account is different and I want to make it my own. My version has some parallels with the final episode of the BBC show: I thought Merlin and Arthur had a great relationship, and that will be the main focus.

Anyway, I managed to focus on my plan and spent 5 hours filling out the plotting sheet. I now have 1700 words: a skeleton plan. It needs fleshing out, but I’ll get to that next. 


I’ve listed Arthur related books to read. I’ve scoured websites. I’m getting flashbacks to my university days, where I spent a lot of time in the library getting distracted by all the books! I get the feeling the first book I picked will be harder to read than ‘The Girl on the Train’ or the few pages of ‘Twilight’ I read before I gave up. Check out that old style English!

Page from ‘The Tale of the Death of King Arthur.’

I’m also going to watch BBC’s Merlin again, because it totally counts. (Yes, all 5 seasons, even though I vowed never to watch the last episode again because it made me cry.) I probably won’t finish in time for November, because I’m re-watching Psych before the movie in December, and Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow return this week!

World Building:

I found a super useful article on world building, with a downloadable worksheet to help outline your world. I expanded it to allow room for a map and details of the leadership in my world. Working through it really helped me get a feel for my locations. I’ll draw maps next!


I’ve been researching characters from Arthurian legend and noting details. Mordred had no magic, but was responsible for Arthur’s downfall. Morgan le Faye was originally a healer, who became vengeful after Guinevere wronged her. Arthur’s father had brothers, and Arthur had sisters/half sisters. There are so many characters to choose from.

I listed characters I’d like to use and started making notes. Merlin, Arthur, and Mordred have the most details so far. Everyone else is a bit sketchy. The article I linked on world building is part of a series. Part 1 covered characters, and there was a worksheet to download. It was a good sheet to use because it asks enough questions, but not so many as to be overwhelming.

My results so far?:

I’ve saved a few location and character pictures on Pinterest. 

I have a basic story structure.

I know my MC’s pretty well and have a basic idea of other characters.

I’ve thought a lot about world building.

I’ve plotted the first three chapters.

I’ve invented an animal.

I have a lot of work to do before the end of October, including plotting each chapter. I’m still struggling with getting from A – B – C. Once I’ve got enough of a plan I’ll write a synopsis and design a cover for the NaNoWriMo website.

Next time I’ll cover what I’ve learned from planning.

How about you? Are you writing 50000 words in November? How’s your planning going? Any tips for plotting out chapters?


Share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s